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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Blue Devils' rushing attack too much for error-prone Cox Mill’s comeback

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CONCORD – The Cox Mill Chargers had their share of advantageous moments Friday night.

Even though the score didn’t always reflect it.

Ultimately, Cream of Cabarrus second-ranked Cox Mill’s inability to take advantage of those moments made their otherwise-impressive comeback all for naught, and they eventually lost to Mooresville, 44-30, in a Greater Metro 4 Conference opener at Charger Stadium.

The Chargers (3-2, 0-1 GMC) lost their second consecutive game. And although Mooresville’s potent rushing attack piled up 354 yards on 44 carries (an average of 8 yards per attempt) and built a double-digit lead late into the third quarter, Cox Mill came charging back and tied up the game, 30-30, on Jordan Cleaves’ 38-yard touchdown run with 8:39 left to play.

An already-enthusiastic crowd was going bonkers.

But the Chargers couldn’t stop Mooresville (3-1, 1-0 GMC) from scoring again, and a late turnover made their demise official.

“We’ve just got to be better on third down,” Baker said. “It was like that the whole game. We had them third-and-13, they overthrow, we get a late hit on the quarterback. We had them fourth-and-10, they roll out the quarterback (Jamere Cherry), he cuts back across the field and gets 10 yards for a first down. Every time we had them in third-and-long, they got a play to get a first down. Every single time.

“Even when it was 30-30, it was third-and-8. We tell our safety, ‘Watch the dig! Watch the post! It’s coming! It’s coming!’ (The Blue Devils) throw the dig. The safety’s playing too far back. They complete the dig.”

The series concluded with Mooresville running back Jawarn Howell, who ran for a robust 265 yards and averaged 9.8 yards per carry, scoring his third touchdown of the night to give the Blue Devils a 37-30 advantage with just 1:34 remaining.

On the next drive, Cox Mill quarterback Dymere Edwards threw an interception to Mooresville’s Aaron Graham, who took his second pick of the game all the way back to the end zone, with the PAT making the score 44-30.

By then, just 18 seconds remained.

Before that, though, Chargers’ inability to get its defense off the field after being at an advantage came back to haunt them.

“It was 30-30, and when we got them to third-and-8, (the Blue Devils) just ran it and got a first down,” Baker said. “They kept running and getting first downs, and they kind of beat us up that way. They scored (on Howell’s run).

“At that point, we’ve got to throw the ball deep, and they picked it off and scored. (The final score) looked worse than it was because they ran the touchdown back.”

Cox Mill made several plays to stay in it. The Chargers limited the Blue Devils to just 33 yards passing, although it turned out Mooresville didn’t need to put the ball in the air. Also, Tyrell Coard and Kendall Harris scored touchdowns for the Chargers, while Sam Weber added a field goal.

The Blue Devils, though, had a rushing attack the Chargers’ just couldn’t handle.

“You’ve got to give (the Blue Devils) a whole lot of credit,” Baker said. “They did a heck of a job running the ball. Jawarn is a freakin’ good player. He’s a load. You don’t want to tackle him 20-25 times a game. He broke off two 80-yard runs that killed us.”

Cox Mill will look to get back on the winning track after their start this season is looking eerily similar to last year, when they won their first three games before losing to Cornelius Hough and Mooresville, ultimately finishing fifth in the GMC.

Next week, the Chargers play host to winless West Cabarrus, who handed Cox Mill a third straight loss last year.

“We’ve just got to clean things up,” Baker said. “It’s not like teams are just beating us down. It’s like I told my guys, ‘We can’t go 0-2 in the conference. We can’t do it. We’re too good of a team.’

“We’ve just to play better on third down. We just have to get back to it Monday. It’s a shame because the crowd was electric on both sides. We needed that win. I guess all you can do is give them their props.”

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